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Cemil Ozyurt

Cemil Ozyurt

The Future Is Bright More Than Your Expectation

As far as I know, we, TurkofAmerica, are the only Turkish-American publication that having ranks for influential Turkish-American role models from women to young people, from doctors to lawyers. The 50 Most Influential Turkish-Americans and the 30 Most Influential Turkish-American Women lists were our latest ranks which we worked very hard to create.   On this issue, we hope that you will enjoy to read, we have 40 most influential Turkish-American under 40 years old. From Silicon Valley to New York finance world, TURKOFAMERICA highlights the untold success stories of young leaders of American society.

We Should Not Only Face History, We Should Embrace It

It was October 2005; one of our reporters conducted an interview with a young film director, Didem Yılmaz who had shot a short documentary about His Imperial Highness Prince Osman Ertugrul, the head of the Ottoman family. The documentary, “Seeking the Sultan”, showed how a young Turkish-American student came across the Ottoman Royal family in New York.

Since then, I have been very curious about the Ottoman Dynasty, which has lived in exile. I attempted a couple times to reach out to Prince Ertuğrul Osman but I wasn’t able to make it. He died in 2009 and one of my biggest regrets is not meeting with him before he passed away.

Almost 10 years later, I learned that current head of the Ottoman family lives in New York. I couldn’t miss this opportunity once again and I reached him through a friend.
We met with HIH Bayazıd Osman on a cold winter night. Since then we get together once a week for lunch or dinner.  Over the last 30 years of my life, I have been reading history books and autobiographies and watched documentaries about the Ottoman family in exile; now I am a witness to this history.    
 
After serving their country for 622, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and about 300 members of the Ottoman Dynasty were forced into exile in March 1924. They spread out over 15 different countries, from France to Germany, Austria to Switzerland. Some of them ended up in America.  

In this issue, we have researched the family members who came to the United States. TURKOFAMERICA is the first publication, which has gathered family members together in New York.

We have come across very sad stories, heartbreaking memories and inconceivable incidents. The family kept quiet almost 70 years. They declined most interview requests and preferred to stay low profile. While preparing this issue, I have met Princes (Şehzade), Princesses (Sultan), Imperial Princesses (Hanım Sultan), and other members of the family. The Ottoman family members whom I have met are down to earth people, each of them able to speak least three or four languages, generous and very proud of their heritage. Even though they have lived almost 90 years in exile, they don’t say anything against Turkey.

In the last decades, Turkish governments have make reconciliation with different minorities and ethnic groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, and Gypsies who live in Turkey. I think it’s time for the Turkish government to face the last Ottomans who survived in very hard conditions over the past 90 years. The government should consider giving their estates, lands, possessions, and assets back to them along with their Turkish IDs and passports. If Armenian, Assyrian, and Gypsy people in Turkey deserve to have their rights back, the family who served their country for 622 years should have the same rights as the rest.



 

What A List! The 50 Most Influential Turkish-Americans

By Cemil Ozyurt - As the first Turkish-American business magazine, which has been publishing since 2002, this issue contains one of the hardest and longest pieces of research we conducted in 11 years. Our team has read thousands of resumes, searched hundreds of websites, made several interviews to name the most influential 50 Turkish-Americans. It wasn't easy. It was conducted for the first time ever and most readers would recognize some of the names chosen with help of the Turk of America team. I am sure that if you are not very much involved in the Turkish-American community, you will be seeing most of these names for the first time.

Over 200 Turkish-American Lawyers Practice in the U.S.

By Cemil Ozyurt - According to TurkofAmerica’s research on Turkish-American lawyers in the U.S., the most experienced lawyer is Elizer Kapuya, who has practiced since 1975 in Los Angeles. Kapuya graduated from the University of West Los Angeles. After Kapuya, the second-most experienced lawyer is Aydın S. Çağınalp, who has practiced in New York since 1976. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America. Melih Doğan also has practiced since 1979 in New York. İskender Cemaletin has also practiced immigration law for over 26 years and has maintained his main office in the same building, located in downtown New York City.

New York is a home for Turkish-American lawyers. According to our research, 82 lawyers have practiced in New York State, 38 lawyers are located in California, and 25 lawyers have practiced in Washington, DC.

The most popular law schools for the lawyers are Brooklyn Law School, Touro Law School, Seton Hall University School of Law and Suffolk University Law School. The most preferred practice areas are immigration, business law and international law.

In addition to Turkish-American lawyers, there are plenty of American lawyers who target the Turkish-American community and they are very active in it. Considered as friends of Turks, Michael E. McMahon of Herrick, Feinstein, LLP, Andrew P. Johnson, David Saltzman of Saltzman & Evinch P.C., and John Driscoll of Eaton & Van Winkle LLP are well known American lawyers in Turkish-American community.  

The list includes Armenian, Greek, and Jews of Turkish descent as well as lawyers who married Turks, such Vanessa Seçkin in New York, Staci Cazanne Pirnar of Bellinger & Suberg, LLP in Dallas, TX, Rachel Cerqueira Denktaş of Saltzman & Evinch, P.C. in Washington, DC, and Christina Angelena Çorbacı of Joyce & Associates, P.C. in Boston, MA.

There are approximately 20 lawyers who have dual law school degrees from both Turkey and the U.S. Cahit Akbulut is the pioneer of the Turkish lawyers who started to practice in the U.S. after obtaining a law degree in Turkey. Mine Gür of The Law Office of H. Mine Gur, Mehmet Fırat Polat of Polat Law Firm, and Betül Ü. Dışkaya of Pinci & Bianchini Law, have obtained dual law degrees from both Turkey and the U.S.

Some owners of boutique law firms expand their offices to different cities. Seda Aktaş of Aktas Law Firm, and Ayhan Ögmen of Ogmen Law Firm have three different offices in three different cities. Seda Aktaş has offices in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando.   

Some lawyers work at as partners in respected large law firms such as Barbaros Karaahmet of Herrick, Feinstein, LLP, a New York based renowned law firm with 170 lawyers and it has existed since 1928, Berin S. Romagnolo of Posternak Blankstein & Lund LLP, founded 1980 in Boston, Demet Başar of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, founded in 1888, and Gülgün U. Mersereau of Hawkins Delafield & Wood, LLP, based on Portland, OR with more than 100 lawyers in eight cities.

The highest ranked person among Turkish-Americans in the legal professions is Jay Ceyhun Karahan, who is a judge in the Harris County Criminal Court in Houston, TX. He has been re-elected twice since 2003. Elizabeth Munisoğlu is the Commissioner of the Superior Court of California County of Los Angeles and Mehmet K. Konar-Steenberg is the Dean of William Mitchell College of Law School in Saint Paul, MN.

While most lawyers prefer to run their own offices, some of them work for companies as in-house legal advisers for companies such as IBM, Blackberry, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Morgan Stanley and Travelers.

Some experienced lawyers are also very active in Turkish-American community. Günay Evinch of Saltzman & Evinch was former President of American Turkish Association Assemble; Sevil Özışık of Tooma & Ozisik LLP was President of Turkish American Chamber of Commerce Industry and Remzi Güvenç Kulen of Kulen Law Firm was President of Turkish American Cultural Center in New Jersey.

The younger generation also has a bright future in their careers, including Ayşe Kuzucuoğlu of Vedder Price, a San Francisco based law firm, Ekin Senlet of Hiscock & Barclay LLP in Albany, NY, and Petek Günay of Gunay Law Firm in New York.
 
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